Posts Tagged johny o’donnell

Johny O’Donnell to MPs: Be the voice we can’t be and speak for us – smacking should be illegal

August 2, 2009

Johny O'DonnellJohny O’Donnell, a leader of Students Against Violence Everywhere (the SAVE Movement) gave the following speech on Parliament Steps last Thursday.

Tena Koutou Katoa

I stand before you today to represent the views of the many rangatahi up and down Aotearoa who are calling on adults to vote in support of violence free homes. I stand with just three of our group of passionate rangitahi who have joined the Students Against Violence Everywhere youth movement and are dedicated to making a difference to our society.

There is a gap in our society and it is youth opinions. Perhaps the government and everyday citizens would be better informed if youth get a better say, I think the referendum is a clear example of young people’s rights and opinions being overlooked.

This law is the difference between us having equal rights to be protected from violence or having less rights than adults and animals. So this issue is a very important topic for young people, surely we would get a say in this issue. Our rights to be brought up in violence free homes are being threatened by groups who are only thinking about adults and it disgusts me that these people are ok with our children being brought up on violence as a form of discipline. As quoted by SAVE member Manaaki Walker “Violence is a ripple effect. It starts off as a drop in the water but soon creates a ripple effect which disturbs all the waters. This is no different than smacking a child. It may start as a smack but can trigger other violent behaviours from both the parent and the child. We need to keep our waters calm and let children have peace in their own homes”.

Smacking is violence and it is harmful, we need to make change to our parenting methods. I want to be a part of a generation that eradicates all forms of physical punishment because it is ineffective, unnecessary, harmful to children and a mind set of some kiwi parents that this is the only option. This law is about positive change and it is happening, good parents are not being criminalised and our attitudes are changing. Child abuse is no longer excused because of discipline.

In a recent survey held on the SAVE movement website 69% of youth voted yes to the question Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand? 69% of our young people are urging adults to take this opportunity to do the right thing – be the voice that we can’t be and speak for us.

This question was one of many questions aimed at canvassing young peoples opinions and 100 people from as young as 10 years old participated in our online survey from all around New Zealand. We also asked should there be the defence of discipline in child abuse cases? A clear 81% of youth said no. Further that 82% believed that young people deserved a better say on this issue. And when asked what best describes the referendum question 45% of participants said it was absolutely shocking and shouldn’t be allowed, while 24% said it was not very good and miss leading. Just 8% thought that the referendum question was excellent.

So lets clear this up once and for all young people of this country are calling for people to vote yes and I am only echoing that call. The time has come for people to listen to youth opinions and protect our rights to be free from all forms of violence including physical punishment. I can only ask that you do the right thing and speak for us- physical punishment is harmful, it’s a waste of time and can only encourage other forms of violence- there is no line between a smack and other violence- the whole lot of it needs to be gone from our homes. Lets not put this change under threat please vote yes in the referendum.

No reira
Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.


Youth advocates show initiative

July 10, 2009


Youth advocates for YES vote have formed a group called Students Against Violence (SAVE) and yesterday launched a set of novel car stickers. One of its organisers, Johny O’Donnell, 15, said the smacking debate was focusing on the rights of parents to hit their children, and overlooked the rights of children not to be hit.

Based in Nelson, they are keen to get other teens on the campaign trail. Contact details are on their website.

Johny O’Donnell: Listen to what youth are saying

June 1, 2009

I was recently told by a parent “you wouldn’t understand you’re not a parent and you’ve got no idea what it’s like”. This comment is something I typically hear as a young advocate for anti-violence and a strong supporter of the 2007 Child Discipline Law.

Luckily I have made my mind up and I won’t stop campaigning and making my voice heard in the community. For other youth they’re not so confident, when it’s an issue as crucial as Section 59 they hold back and tend to not speak their voices to others. I think this is a real shame because as young people we have a very good idea of what we want, I have spoken to many youth about this issue and they too believe that children need to be protected.

I have a vision that the Section 59 referendum will bring together youth who want to make a difference. I am the co-founder of a group called Students Against Violence and the general feeling amongst our group is disgust, disgust that over 300,000 people could sign a petition that really justifies hitting a child.

We want to raise youth voices on this issue and ultimately make sure children are protected by the law. In an issue about children that will directly affect children it is a shame we have no democratic say in the issue.

Another issue that we are having as youth campaign for the Child Discipline Law is the negativity we receive from the public. The feeling we get is that people can’t handle youth having their say and that people have a belief that we aren’t justified to speak our voices on an issue that directly affects us.

Our message to New Zealand is that as youth we need a say on this issue and it is clear there is strong opposition to us speaking out. We do not understand why people want to justify hitting a child and why people want to have a law that says its okay to do so.

Plunket Barnardos Save the Children Unicef Jigsaw Ririki Parents CentrePaediatric Society Womens Refuge Epoch

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